Spartans’ Season Ends in OT Loss
Patrick Khodorenko had a goal and assist in the season-ending loss.
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Michigan State hockey team’s season came to an end on Saturday night in Columbus as Freddy Gerard’s goal 5:53 into sudden death overtime gave sixth-ranked Ohio State a 4-3 win in game two of the best-of-three Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal series. The Spartans end the season at 12-22-2.
“It was a great, great effort by our guys,” MSU head coach Danton Cole said. “I was really impressed; I don’t think our guys could have given us much more. We got three behind them and we had some other chances, even through overtime. That’s the way it is, there’s one team that gets through and we didn’t get it. But, we did some good things and some stuff to build on going forward.”
The Buckeyes grabbed the lead with a power-play goal at the 11:09 mark of the opening period as Mason Jobst took a pass in the neutral zone, split a pair of Spartan defenders and slid the puck past Lethemon.
MSU got its first power-play opportunity in the closing minutes of the opening period and was able to convert to tie the game. Khodorenko came out of the left corner with the puck, skated behind the net and hit Cody Milan with a pass in the right circle. Milan immediately wristed the puck high past goaltender Sean Romeo to tie the game with 26.3 seconds to go in the period.
Michigan State took its first lead just 29 seconds into the second period as the KHL line of Khodorenko, Taro Hirose and Mitchell Lewandowski combined on an odd-man rush. The play all started off a blocked shot by Tommy Miller in the MSU zone, springing Lewandowski the other way with the puck. Lewandowski dished a pass to Hirose on the left side in the OSU zone, who then dropped the puck for Khodorenko. Khodorenko snapped it past Romeo from the left circle to make it 2-1.
The three players – Khodorenko, Hirose and Lewandowski – finished the season with a combined 108 points.
A turnover in the MSU end led OSU’s second goal as Jobst capitalized off a feed in front to make it 2-2 at the 7:43 mark.
The Spartans, however, responded almost immediately as hard work in the OSU zone by David Keefer and Brennan Sanford set up Tommy Apap to regain the lead for MSU just 29 seconds after the Buckeye goal. Keefer eventually worked the puck free behind Romeo and made a perfect pass out front to Apap at the top of the crease for a one-timer and a 3-2 Spartan advantage.
The Buckeyes retied the game at the 11:22 mark as John Wiitala jumped on a loose puck in the MSU zone end and snapped a shot past Lethemon to make it 3-3.
Ohio State outshot the Spartans, 15-6, in the third period that saw both teams have chances, but neither capitalized.
The winning goal in overtime came after defenseman Sasha Larocque kept the puck in the MSU zone at the left point and flung it toward the net. Gerard got a stick on the shot and the puck deflected past Lethemon.
“That was a long time to stay tied at 3-3. It was kind of like both teams were waiting for that one bounce,” Cole said. “We couldn’t get a couple and they got that one stick on the puck coming through there and that’s the way they end sometimes in overtime.
“The important thing is – lose a game or lose a series, but like we’ve said all year, don’t lose a lesson. We have to figure out a way to keep getting better between now and when we take the ice in the fall.”